Applauding the new distracted driving law

It’s been nearly a week since Alberta’s distracted driving legislation has come into effect and hopefully drivers are remembering this new law when they get behind the wheel.

The legislation came underway just in time for students to go back to school and before busy long-weekend traffic took to the roads as well.

The law prohibits the use of hand-held cell phones for talking or texting, the use of other electronic devices, reading, writing and personal grooming while driving. Drivers can still use cell phones or radio communication devices, but only if they use them in a hands-free or voice-activated manner. This means the device is not held in the driver’s hand and is activated by voice or a single touch to the device.

Drivers may use a hand-held citizen’s band (CB) or two-way radio when escorting oversized vehicles, to contact one’s employer, or when participating in search, rescue and emergency management situations.

Drivers who break the law will be fined $172. They can face additional charges if they commit other traffic violations such as running a red light or making an improper lane change. A driver can also be charged under the existing driving without due care and attention law, a more serious offence with a fine of $402 and six demerit points.

There’s no question that the fines need to be in place. There needs to be a deterrent and one that driver’s who fail to comply with the law will feel deep in their pockets. But is $172 fine enough? Absolutely not. The fines should be more in line with what a ticket for driving without due care and attention are. Driver’s will remember getting hit with a $402 ticket a lot more than one for $172.

It’s become more common to see drivers on the roads not only talking but texting on their cell phones, fixing their hair and even eating all while trying to navigate a vehicle.

Thank goodness there is now a law in place to help deter drivers from being distracted behind the wheel. A vehicle can be dangerous and if drivers aren’t paying attention they can seriously injure or kill themselves or others. No text is worth potentially losing a life over.

Now of course this new legislation will only be successful if drivers begin to pay attention and take this seriously. Police will be out in full force and we can bet they’ve been waiting for this law to come into place. We can only hope drivers comply with the law. After all, it only makes the road safer for all of us.